Aina Dumlao

Actor. Filmmaker. Mother of Chihuahuas.

Actor. Filmmaker. Mother of chihuahuas.

Me, My Mom, MacGyver

I was born in the Philippines, raised by a single mother. Her name is Prossy and she's the kindest, bravest woman I know. We didn't have much, but we made do with what we had. And having each other was all we really needed.

As government jobs go, my Mom didn't make much. She needed to make extra money just to afford tuition fees, rent and everything else in between. She earned the money by working overtime and by constantly traveling for her job. And so, I grew up, mostly alone and was left to figure out how this thing called Life worked. For answers and companionship, I turned to books - from Archie comics, to Almanacs and classics like Great Expectations.

But on weekends, when my Mom was home, we found happiness in just sitting together on the couch and watching whatever was on TV. On Sundays, in particular, on one of our 3 channels, we watched reruns of Wheel of Fortune and MacGyver. And while the specifics of the episodes my mom and I watched together are fuzzy (you know, me being a barely-formed human being at that time, and all), what I did get out of those Sundays were:

a) Life-time Wheel of Fortune crazy-mad skills
b) A crush on Richard Dean Anderson 
c) Time with my Mom

Fast forward through years riddled with heartbreaks and joys to the present, where I now live an ocean apart from my Mom. She's back home in the Philippines and I'm in Los Angeles where I'm trying my luck out as an actress. Yes, me, Aina Dumlao. The olive-skinned, button-mushroom nosed, giant-foreheaded little girl who never thought she was beautiful or special is now an ACTOR currently at the mercy of an industry where beauty is the major currency. An industry where I'm constantly told - indirectly and directly - that I'm not pretty enough, young enough or (my favorite) not Asian enough.

Me and my Mom on my 3rd birthday, taken at her office where we celebrated it.

Me and my Mom on my 3rd birthday, taken at her office where we celebrated it.

But through the rejection, the heartache, the near hits and mostly misses... this Friday will mark my 1st episode on the new MacGyver as the recurring character, Andie Lee. I don't know what the future will hold for me in the show but what's important for me is the symbolism Andie Lee carries. To me, she's the fruition of the immense love and support Bru (my partner in crime and life) has had for me from Day 1 in Los Angeles. And most importantly, she (Andie Lee) embodies the sacrifice and love my Mom has always had for me...then and now.

Mom, Andie Lee is for you and I can't wait for you to see her on TV. I love you and I miss you and I can't wait to just sit on the couch with you again, watching the new episodes of Macgyver together.